Friday, May 25, 2012

Homeschooling Bookshelf Redo

Our homeschool base is in our kitchen.  Therefore, we need a spot for our books and supplies.  I have thought about putting the books in a different room, but that would be a hassle.  I have also thought about moving our homeschool downstairs, but don’t feel ready for that.  I like being on the main floor where I can attend to other duties of the home while my children are doing their work.

Up until a few weeks ago, this is what our kitchen looked like:  unbalanced, and not very appealing.

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Now, this is what it looks like:  crisp, clean, and yes – balanced! 

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We found these bookshelves at IKEA.  I just love them!  They fit perfectly into the small wall columns next to my window. 

The only thing I do not like about our set-up is that I have no wall space in my kitchen to put up wall d├ęcor.  Sniff sniff.  I will have to be creative with color and style some other way.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

As He Thinks in His Heart, So Is He.

In less than two weeks, I will be hosting my niece’s graduation party.  She has lived with us for three and a half years now, and it is time to celebrate her achievements.  When I started thinking about the graduation party a few months ago, I felt I just could not do it.  The very thought of being responsible for approximately 200 people’s well-being within the span of four hours seemed absolutely overwhelming.

What would I serve?
How would I store the food?
Where would everyone sit?
Could I get my house in shipshape condition?

Negative thinking, fret, and worry entered my mind.  A friend of mine pointed out that she was hearing the words, “stressed” and “overwhelmed” coming out of my mouth a lot.  She told me to “STOP IT!”

Although it was hard to hear her rebuke, I knew it was true.  How would I ever pull off the graduation party with success if I was already defeated in my mind, without even TRYING to do anything?! 

My thinking needed to change, and it did – by the sweet grace of God.

I began to think I COULD do this.
I began to pick my friends’ brains, those who have walked this path before.
I began to exhaust my resources and plan with my husband.
I began to believe in myself and believe that this graduation party was possible!

What have you been thinking lately?

What types of thoughts have you had about your God, yourself, your family, your relationships and your responsibilities in life?

Thoughts are the seeds of our beings’ fruit.
”As he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  Proverbs 23:7

Our thoughts reveal who we really are.  They reveal our struggles as well as our hopes and dreams.

The thoughts we have rule our lives
for they affect and even become actions.

Our thoughts have the power to make or break our lives.

What will you do today about your thoughts?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Embracing the Present: Not Worrying about the Future

As moms, oftentimes we are worried about the future.  I’m not even talking about the distant future, like what our children will be like when they grow up or what the economy will be like in five years. 

Oftentimes our worry comes out like this:

“We’ve got soccer three times every week this month, a piano recital next week, birthday celebrations scheduled for the next few weeks, grocery shopping for tomorrow, church preparations tonight, spring cleaning… I just don’t know how I am going to handle all of this”.

I started the year with much worry.  When the New Year began, I was completely (and I mean completely!) overwhelmed.  I filled in my calendar for the New Year and felt like I had already lived the entire year due to all of the events I had just written down!  With seven people in our house, close-knit families, and a busy church life, we stay very busy.

As the New Year began, however, God continued the work He has been doing in my heart – a work of trust … a work of rest. 

Even in the midst of busy lives, our hearts can be at rest.

That is the key to peace.  That is the key to embracing the present and living life to its fullest.

Rather than seeing our full calendar as a burden,
we must view it as a blessing,
taking one day (or one event!) at a time.

I am a homebody, and when I have things scheduled outside of the house, sometimes it will start to concern me.  When I am able to renew my mind, though, and think of the activities as good things, I can free myself to look forward to the events on our calendar.

Truly, God wants us to be busy in life.  He wants us to be active, productive, and social.  Obviously, there are times when we need to slow down and evaluate our lives, but in general, we are supposed to be busy – not overwhelmed… just busy!

If we can remember to count our blessings each day
about the opportunities in our lives,
then we can truly embrace the present
and live lives of joy and peace!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Embracing the Present: Letting Go of the Past

Each moment of our life is spent – for good or for bad.  For some reason, it seems that the bad moments have a tendency of sticking to us.  Five good things will happen, and we will remember that one bad thing that happened right in the middle of it.  That bad moment will try to plant itself within our beings, within our hearts and minds to create bitterness, unforgiveness, deep wounds, and negative thinking.

In order to embrace the present,
we need to let go of the past.

Sometimes this can be fairly easy, but sometimes this is very hard.  Words and actions done against us can be very painful.  Our battles, struggles, and insufficiencies each day take a toll on us.  It may take a lot of work to press forward and try to forget what happened yesterday.  Nonetheless, it is required for a victorious life. 

I struggle daily to try to let go of the past.  Certainly, it molds and shapes the present, yet I do not want it to control my being.

I want to have fresh thoughts and fresh vision for each day.

I want to be free from others’ carelessness and hurtful ways and be able to love them with the grace of God.

I want to have a vibrant, victorious life.

Are you holding on to the past?  You may need a miracle, as I do, but God is able.

May we seek our God for His abundant power and grace until we get victory!

2 Corinthians 6:2
…behold, now is the day of salvation.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday.. Ugh! Captivate Your Thoughts.

Monday… Ugh!

Oftentimes the very word “Monday” brings about images and feelings of tension.

Your to-do list and schedule may seem overwhelming to you, and you are shaking your head wondering how it will all get done.

Perhaps you had a busy weekend, and you are feeling fatigued… or you simply had a bad night’s rest due to a sick child (like me), and you are not feeling quite ready to start the week.

Let’s captivate our thoughts!

Let’s have a good Monday!

Let’s look at our duties and events
as opportunities and blessings rather than burdens.

Let’s hope for good things!

Be blessed today!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother’s Day!

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My daughter made these flower gifts for me from plants she found outside.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers
who sacrifice their lives for their families
each and every day.

May you be challenged to live a more beautiful, giving life.

Blessings and grace from our Lord!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dinner and Dessert with a Twist–Day Three

Many good meals end with a tantalizing tidbit of sweetness - yes, that part of the meal we call “dessert”.

I do have a sweet tooth, unfortunately, and like to bake – mostly anything that has chocolate in it, but I do venture out and try other things.

I’m sure many of you have heard of the infamous “seven layer bars”.

Well, how about…

Ten Layer Bars?!
Printable Version

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My photo really does not do these bars justice!  If you want a convincing photo, check out Inn Cuisine – where I found this deadly recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 & 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1 cup dark chocolate baking chips

  • 1 cup butterscotch baking chips

  • 1 cup Heath Milk Chocolate English Toffee baking chips

  • 7 ounces sweetened angel-flake coconut

  • 2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

  • 7 ounces canned Dulce de Leche (about 1/2 can, check measurements)

  • 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk (about 1/2 can, check measurements)

Directions:

Melt butter in a saucepan and mix in the crushed graham crackers.

Press the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13"x9" pan.

Layer the semisweet chocolate chips, dark chocolate baking chips, butterscotch baking chips, Heath Milk Chocolate English Toffee bits, coconut, and chopped nuts atop the graham cracker crust.

In a small bowl, mix canned Dulce de Leche and sweetened condensed milk (warm in the microwave for a few seconds or in a double boiler if necessary to blend and make pourable). Pour mixture evenly over layered ingredients.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Cool in pan and cut into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dinner and Dessert with a Twist, Day Two

Yesterday I shared a recipe for homemade Crunchwraps – yum!  Isn’t it great when you can make restaurant food at home?  ~smile~

Today I am going to show you how to (as Emeril would say) “kick it up a notch” with your grilled cheese sandwiches!

Who needs to make grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner when you can make Grilled Sloppy Joe Sandwiches?!!

My family really enjoyed these.

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Grilled Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
Printable Version

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 T mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
12 slices whole wheat bread
softened butter
sliced cheddar cheese or about 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1.  Brown beef with onion in skillet until fully cooked.  Drain grease.
2.  Add mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar to the beef.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
3.  Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
4.  Layer a slice of bread (butter side down on skillet), with cheese, beef mixture, additional cheese, and another slice of bread (butter side up).
5.  Cook over medium heat until sandwich is lightly browned on both sides.
6.  Eat with delight!

Yes, this recipe was also adapted from Real Mom Kitchen!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dinner and Dessert with a Twist, Day One

I’ve made some interesting things for dinner and dessert lately.  For the next three days (including today) I will post some fun and tantalizing recipes for you to try, starting with dinner…

Homemade Crunchwraps

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This Crunchwrap was more enclosed when I started grilling it,
but it became a bit undone throughout the process, as you can see.

Do you like Taco Bell?  Now’s your chance to show ‘em up and make those Crunchwraps at home!

They are a little tricky to grill, but they are delicious!  (I think it may have worked better if I had bigger tortillas or less filling.)

Printable Version

1 pound ground beef, browned with taco seasoning.
4 or 5 burrito-sized tortillas, warmed
sour cream (can omit… I did since most of my kids do not like it)
diced tomatoes
shredded cheddar cheese or nacho cheese sauce
crushed tortilla chips
shredded lettuce
taco sauce

1.  Spread sour cream, if using, in the center of a tortilla.
2.  Place beef, tomatoes, cheese, tortilla chips, and lettuce atop the sour cream.
3.  Fold the edges of the tortilla towards the center to make a hexagonal shape.
4.  Place the wrap in a warmed skillet, at medium heat, with the open side down.
5.  Grill for about one minute on each side until browned.
6.  Serve with taco sauce.

Inspired by and Adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

Friday, May 4, 2012

Deposits and Withdrawals: The Essence of Relationships?

“If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative!
Know when to close the account.”

This is the quote I came across on Pinterest recently.  When I first read it, my heart resounded an “AMEN”, and I nearly repinned it.  Most of us will probably react that way at first when we read this statement. 

However, when I thought about it some more, I realized that this statement really isn’t what Jesus teaches us.  I love to hear quotes like the above because it protects me.  It helps me not be so vulnerable.  It helps me to worry about myself more than others. 

Jesus, on the other hand, said things like:

“Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant…For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-35)

 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.  (Luke 6:32-36)

I understand that we are human and sometimes need to get ourselves out of hurtful, damaging relationships.

I also realize, though, that God calls us
to a greater love than a relationship ledger requires.

Have you been keeping a ledger of your relationships?
Have you been keeping track of the deposits and withdrawals?
Are you giving more then you are receiving and decided that you should just “take the backseat” for a while in the relationship to see if the other person will step up to the plate?

God wants us to have servants’ hearts… giving hearts…
forgiving hearts… loving hearts… proactive hearts.

In order to do that, we need His grace to fill us each day afresh!  We can not do this in our own strength.

May we have the ability to love as God loves.